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The Vertical Mosaic

The Vertical Mosaic: An Analysis of Social Class and Power in Canada

Copyright Date: 1965
Pages: 626
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  • Book Info
    The Vertical Mosaic
    Book Description:

    Although this is a sociological study in which evidence in related to social theory, the author has tried to avoid technical terms, and this, together with the particular relevance at the present time of a discussion of the nature of Canadian society, will make this book interesting tolaymen as well as specialists.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8304-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)

    EVER SINCE Professor Porter’s article “Elite Groups: A Scheme for the Study of Power in Canada”¹ appeared in the November 1955 issue of theCanadian Journal of Economics and Political Science,Canadian social scientists have looked forward with high expectation to the completion of the author’s exhaustive study of the relation between social class and power in Canadian society. The vast range of his inquiry and the monumental amount of elusive material that he has organized and examined in the process of his analysis explain the ten years’ wait we have had to endure. Although it would have been extremely...

  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xv-xxii)

    • CHAPTER I Class and Power: The Major Themes
      (pp. 3-28)

      ONE OF THE most persistent images that Canadians have of their society is that it has no classes. This image becomes translated into the assertion that Canadians are all relatively equal in their possessions, in the amount of money they earn, and in the opportunities which they and their children have to get on in the world. An important element in this image of classlessness is that, with the absence of formal aristocracy and aristocratic institutions, Canada is a society in which equalitarian values have asserted themselves over authoritarian values. Canada, it is thought, shares not only a continent with...

    • CHAPTER II Class, Mobility, and Migration
      (pp. 29-59)

      PEOPLE ARE the basic element of all social structure. Human beings create a society and its traditions. If a population is increasing, if it is always moving about, if it has a large proportion of immigrants, if it has to push out large numbers who can not find work, if it is made up of a variety of cultural groups, it will clearly be a different kind of society than it would be if these conditions did not prevail. This is not to suggest that the prime mover of social structure is the population factor. Demographic changes do not take...

    • CHAPTER III Ethnicity and Social Class
      (pp. 60-103)

      IMMIGRANTS FROM many different cultures have had to fit into a social class structure which, in Canada, is a reflection of the economic position of the many ethnic groups, both Canadian-born and immigrant, who make up the population. In this selecting and sorting out of migrants of different ethnic backgrounds into various occupations and so into the class system, a number of factors have operated in varying intensities at different times in Canada’s history. Important among these were the evaluations by the “charter” members of the society of the jobs to be filled and the “right” kind of immigrants to...

    • CHAPTER IV Classes and Incomes
      (pp. 104-133)

      ONE OF THE most popular ways of dividing people into social classes is by income. The term “income bracket” suggests a simple and easy way of sorting people out according to the amount of money they earn. Yet the task is not as easy as it sounds. Statistics about incomes are collected and presented in ways which make them, in some respects, both inaccurate and unreliable. Moreover, we lack a clear definition of what income actually is.

      The two main sources of complete income statistics for Canada are the census every ten years and the annual income tax statistics of...

    • CHAPTER V Rural Decline and New Urban Strata
      (pp. 134-164)

      SOCIAL IMAGES are the pictures which a society presents to itself, and to other societies, of what it believes itself to be. These images may or may not reflect reality. Most often, they are mental loiterers, hanging around after important social changes have taken place. One of the loitering images of Canada is of a rural, pioneering, frontier society. There are some “official” perpetuations of this image. Canadian postage stamps and paper currency emphasize the wilderness aspect of the country. Politicians and nationalistic journalists seem to envisage the “true north strong and free,” a country of farmers and primary producers,...

    • CHAPTER VI Social Class and Educational Opportunity
      (pp. 165-198)

      WITH THE complex division of labour of modern industrial societies, education has come to be one of the most important social functions. Both the quantity and quality of education will determine a society’s creative potential. We have seen in the previous chapter something of the increasing complexity of Canada’s occupational structure and the inadequacy of its educational systems to meet the occupational changes of the 1950’s. In this chapter we shall examine the way in which education, as a scarce resource which costs money, is distributed through the class structure. We shall discuss also some of the implications of a...


    • CHAPTER VII Elites and the Structure of Power
      (pp. 201-230)

      POWER MEANS the recognized right to make effective decisions on behalf of a group of people. The group may be a boys’ gang, a coffee club, a nation, or a far-flung empire. Here we are concerned with developing a theory of power at the level of the modern nation state. Most discussions of power deal with the power of the state, that is, political power, because it includes the particularly dramatic element of physical force. In stable societies it is only political power-holders who have the right to use such force. The loyalty of the police and the army to...

    • CHAPTER VIII The Concentration of Economic Power
      (pp. 231-263)

      IN THE WESTERN type of industrial society the concept of an economic elite derives its validity from the concentration of economic power within a relatively few corporations which become linked to one another and to the principal financial institutions through interlocking directorships. An elite group is, however, something more than a statistical class, so it is necessary to provide evidence that the economic elite exhibits a degree of social homogeneity. The present chapter and Appendix II seek to show how a relatively small group of firms are responsible for a disproportionate amount of economic activity, and how these firms share...

    • CHAPTER IX The Economic Elite and Social Structure
      (pp. 264-308)

      THE ECONOMIC ELITE has been defined as those who occupy the major decision-making positions in the corporate institutions of Canadian society. Where do they come from, and how do men (there are no women) gain access to this rather small and select group? In every society there are established mechanisms by which members are sorted out and assigned to particular social tasks. Often this process is based on biological or inherited characteristics. In most societies there are, for example, male roles and female roles. Sex has always been an initial basis of sorting and assigning people to their appropriate tasks....

    • CHAPTER X The Structure of Organized Labour
      (pp. 309-336)

      MEMBERSHIP IN an elite group means participation in the processes of power. Along with the corporate elite there is in the economic system another elite group whose decision-making has important consequences for the society. This second elite group is made up of trade union leaders. Their power in economic decision-making stems from the control which in varying measure they have over the supply of labour. The power of these two elites in the economy is by no means equal because the corporate elite has that consolidated power which comes from the traditions of property institutions, whereas the labour elite has...

    • CHAPTER XI The Labour Elite
      (pp. 337-365)

      WHO MAKES UP the labour elite? Taken as a whole the trade union system is extraordinarily complex, so that it is difficult to select those positions which are most important. Moreover, because they do not enjoy the prestige of other elites, labour leaders are not as well known, and consequently the information which is readily available about their social origins and careers is very limited. Because of these two difficulties it was necessary, first of all, to draw up from some accessible list of positions and names those labour officials who could be considered as leaders. Once this step was...

    • CHAPTER XII The Canadian Political System
      (pp. 366-385)

      CANADA’S POLITICAL system has not been neglected by social scientists. Historians, political scientists, and constitutional lawyers have provided a comprehensive picture of the development and formal operation of the major political institutions of the society. If there are any underlying themes in all this work they are the emergence of an independent statehood for Canada, and the search for a “viable federalism” in which the relative importance of the federal and provincial governments changes in the process of their adapting to the paramount problems of the day. The material on Canadian political institutions is largely descriptive. With a few exceptions¹...

    • CHAPTER XIII The Political Elite
      (pp. 386-416)

      INCLUDED IN the political elite for purposes of the present study were all those who were federal cabinet ministers during the period 1940–60; all provincial premiers in office during the same period; all justices of the Supreme Court of Canada; presidents of the Exchequer Court; and the provincial chief justices who held office during the same period. The reasons why the political elite was selected in this way are given in Appendix III. Biographical data on all but two of the people who filled these roles during the designated time were fairly easily obtained,¹ although on some items, which...

    • CHAPTER XIV The Federal Bureaucracy
      (pp. 417-456)

      WHETHER POLITICAL systems are dynamic or immobile, whether collective goals are clarified or obscured, whether the society is adaptable and creative or static and dull, the fact remains that in modern industrial societies governments have assumed a much more important role than formerly in the regulation of economic and social life.

      Much of the increased intervention of the federal government in Canada has been directed towards stabilizing the economy, without changing its essential character as an economy owned and controlled by national and international corporations. As well, the federal government has assumed military and international obligations which have led to...

    • CHAPTER XV The Ideological System: The Mass Media
      (pp. 457-490)

      INDIVIDUAL HUMAN beings are linked together in social groups and in societies by ideas. Social cohesion depends to a great extent on the intensity with which people accept collective sentiments and values as their own. Thus societies must make provision for the articulation and reinforcing of social values. Because values tend to be conservative and traditional, the reinforcement of old values is more general than the articulation of new ones. The reinforcement of social values is one of the important social functions of ritualistic ceremonies. Moreover, because all social groups are subject to internal strains, ceremonies in which symbols and...

    • CHAPTER XVI The Ideological System: The Higher Learning and the Clergy
      (pp. 491-519)

      WITHIN THE ideological system important social roles are taken on by the social type frequently referred to, and analyzed by sociologists and others, as “the intellectuals.” Often the definition of intellectual is very wide, such as that suggested, perhaps satirically, by Jacques Barzun, as anyone who carries a brief case.¹

      In an analysis of the intellectual in public bureaucracy, R. K. Merton used “expert” and “intellectual” interchangeably. He considered as intellectuals those persons who devote themselves to “cultivating and formulating knowledge,” and made a distinction between bureaucratic and unattached intellectuals.² In a study of intellectuals in new states, E. A....

    • CHAPTER XVII Relations between Elites
      (pp. 520-558)

      TWO WIDELY discussed concepts for the study of social power are “establishment” and “power elite.” Both have certain defects for sociological analysis. “Establishment” lacks precision. It has become, as Henry Fairlie, who claims to be the first to use the term, has said, “a harlot of a phrase used . . . merely to denote those in positions of power [whom those who use the phrase] happen to dislike most.”¹ Sometimes the term, establishment, refers to the close kinship links and generational continuity among those who occupy authority roles within English society, and to those who have a common educational...


    • APPENDIX I Class and Social Structure: Tables and Figures
      (pp. 561-569)
    • APPENDIX II The Concentration of Economic Power
      (pp. 570-596)
    • APPENDIX III How the Other Elites Were Selected
      (pp. 597-614)
  8. Index
    (pp. 615-626)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 627-627)